Sherwin-Williams says its new paint kills 99.9 percent of infection-causing bacteria.
Sherwin-Williams says its new paint kills 99.9 percent of infection-causing bacteria. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

It’s flu season, so you might want to avoid touching surfaces where people with coughs and sniffles might be leaving their germs.

Paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams says it wants to help too. It says its new "Paint Shield" line of interior paint kills almost all the bacteria that land on it in about two hours. The main target for this new product: hospitals.

Sherwin-William’s Steve Revnew says the new paint is groundbreaking. “It doesn’t just inhibit the growth of common microbes," he said, “it actually has the power to kill infectious bacteria.”

The new paint isn’t cheap — about $85 a gallon, which is at the higher end for premium paints. The company said that reflects the major investment in propriety research that went into the product's development. Doctor Emily Landon, the hospital epidemiologist at the University of Chicago, though, is a little skeptical about the product's usefulness in hospitals.

“Bacteria don’t jump off of walls," she said. "And the only way they can get from walls to patients is from contaminated health care provider hands.”

She’s in charge of limiting the spread of infection at the hospital, and said she wants to see more research on whether the paint actually reduces infections in hospital settings before buying it.

Even if she's not convinced about its use in hospitals, Dr. Landon said this kind of paint could prove pretty useful elsewhere.

“In a daycare center or a pediatrician waiting room where you’ve got kids running around with snotty noses all the time, it may be helpful to have fewer bacteria on the walls, but that really remains to be seen,” she said. Dr. Landon said the cheapest and most effective way to limit the spread of infection is to wash your hands.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Kimberly Adams at @KA_Marketplace